I recently visited Johnson and Wales University in Denver, CO and had the chance to connect with two friends from graduate school who work on the campus in admissions and student life. We had lunch and toured the campus (my favorite part was seeing the culinary students in action!).
Johnson and Wales is not right for every student. It takes a student with a certain dedication and passion toward a specific career goal to make this campus be the “right fit” for them. It was easy to quickly recognize that this was not the place to recommend to your average 17 year old student who is undecided about their career path but that it was a great place for some highly motivated and well-directed students. So, I asked Wes and Brennan about what kind of student they thought was right for Johnson and Wales.
Wes, who works in admissions, highlights the fact that students who want to go to Johnson and Wales should be extremely driven. Students with clear goals of where they want to go professionally in areas such as business or culinary arts can really thrive here. Students who are excited about the opportunity to spend significant time making professional connections, do internships, and get the “real world experience” may find Johnson and Wales to be a good match.
Brennan, who works in student life, adds in that one thing that sets Johnson and Wales apart from some other schools, geared toward specific trades and a professional track, is that they do offer a true college experience for those students who are looking for it. They actually have a distinct college campus, an opportunity to live in dorms, campus events, student government and clubs and activities. It is a nice way to create some balance for students who want the “trade school” experience with some real college campus flavor thrown in.
While not captured on video, one of the highlights of my visit was an amazing tour guide who talked about her experience with the faculty. She said Johnson and Wales is really great for the student who wants their faculty to be coming directly from the industry they want to work in. She talked about her professors who would literally go through the textbooks and say “here is what you really need to know” and then connect her and her peers with the colleagues they knew who were still in the industry for internship or work experience.
So, again, students starting to do college visits remember to ask yourself the tough questions such as: how driven am I? How clear are my career goals or do I still need some time to explore? How passionate am I about a particular career at this point in my life? These kinds of questions may help you filter through your college list.